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This will sound familiar. A small team of space travelling humans are on a desperate mission into the farthest reaches of space when they get stranded on a distant planet that houses a unique device that once triggered, will reset Earth from its dark decline and return it to its former hospitable self. Problem is, the planet is infested with vicious creatures with multiple eyes that are looking to feast on the humans. Can they complete their mission in time and survive both the dying planet and the monsters on it?
Written and directed by Justin Price, Alien Reign of Man is an extremely low-budget film that puts all its eggs in one basket, that being computer-generated visual effects, which populate nearly every frame of the movie. While they are mostly even and for what it is, generally convincing, they are not enough to mask the pallid story and amateur acting that ultimately keep the film from reaching its potential.
We are thrown right into plot, given nothing to grab onto as actors exposition their way around the the planet’s surface, much that looks like Earth with CGI horizons. It’s brutally slow and often hard to discern what’s going on as it uses disjointed flashbacks in attempting to keep us up to speed. We are never really given any chance to develop any investment in these people as they come and go, searching for a thing called “the Spire” and fighting off the occasional monster and ‘infected’, another team who were apparently sent beforehand to terraform the place, with hints of a great city that lies in ruin. We learn that there is a partner Spire on Earth and that dark matter is the key but truly, it’s never quite made all the clear, or at least with much interest.
There’s very little action in the short 84-minute runtime with people standing in the dark talking a lot, which certainly wouldn’t be an issue except that everything is said to explain something that seems like the characters should already know. Price does have a good eye though and the film often looks very appealing, with several outdoor locations that inspire and a clean, sharp style. But it’s all for naught as poor performances and a troublesome script leave the experience feeling more like a proof of concept project for a visual effects house than a completed film. I’ve tried to avoid the obvious Ridley Scott Alien lineage the film seems earnestly striving for, a comparison almost too easy to make, but there are plenty and none seem by accident. High marks to the filmmakers for some good cinematography and their CGI, but Alien Reign of Man will only appeal to the most ardent sci-fi fans.
Movie description: Alien Reign of Man is a 2017 sci-fi thriller about a team, stranded on a planet, who must fight aliens and activate a machine meant to restore Earth to a time before its downfall.
Director(s): Justin Price
Actor(s): Khu, Torrei Hart, Deanna Grace Congo